Remember how virtually all "experts" speculated that the drop in the price of gold would set off a liquidation cascade in China, where everyone was "loaded to the gills" and at the first hint of deflation would dump all holdings (not to mention that economic Ph.D. proclaimed the gold "bubble" popped two months and $200 lower)? It seems that as so often happens when all experts agree on something, it is precisely the opposite that happens. The FT reports that "Chinese gold imports from Hong Kong, a proxy for the country’s overall overseas buying, leapt to a record high in September, when monthly purchases matched almost half that for the whole of 2010....After hitting a nominal all-time high of $1,920.30 a troy ounce in early September, the yellow metal fell to a three-month low of $1,534 an ounce later in the month. Chinese investors snapped up the metal as prices fell." Fair enough: this means the natural bid under gold will pretty much always be there, especially since the SHCOMP plunged at the same time, and if there was truly cross asset liquidation, imports would hardly rise. Which begs the question: if not China, then who sold? Was the move purely a function of fears that Paulson was liquidating? Or were rumors that various central banks are liquidating gold, actually true? We will likely find out when the next WGC report is filed. WE will also know that the Chinese number for total gold holdings is grossly underreported.
More from the FT:
Analysts expect the September import surge to continue until the end of the year as Chinese gold buyers snap up the yellow metal in advance of Chinese New Year, China’s key gold-buying period.
“In September we saw some bargain hunters come back into the market on the price dip,” said Janet Kong, managing director of research for CICC, the Chinese investment bank.
Data from the Hong Kong government showed that China imported a record 56.9 tonnes in September, a sixfold increase from 2010. Monthly gold imports for most of 2010 and this year run at about 10 tonnes, but buying jumped in July, August and September. In the three-month period, China imported from Hong Kong about 140 tonnes, more than the roughly 120 tonnes for the whole 2010.
And before the experts congregate and conclude that this time China will certainly start dumping gold, this time for realz, read this:
The last two months of this year are likely to see China’s gold imports surge further ahead of Chinese New Year, supporting gold prices, according to Ms Kong. “We’ve noted a quite strong seasonality in gold prices, typically prices go up in the months before the Chinese New Year.”
So in addition to being a comfort to gold bulls, does this report also undermine all goalseeked reported from China that inflation in the country is moderating? Because if anyone knows best, it surely is the locals.